Boston entrepreneur Chet Kanojia knows he’s facing a monumental task with his latest undertaking. Kanojia, founder of Boston and New York-based wireless Internet start-up Starry, Inc., believes his company can offer wireless broadband Internet capable of up to 1 Gigabit throughput at a fraction of the cost of traditional ISPs. Thus far, Starry has proven successful on a small scale in its initial Boston test market. However, if Starry can reliably provide this new service at scale, this technology could prove to be a disruptor to the major ISPs and their wired infrastructure.
Starry’s ability to beam wireless Gigabit Internet to consumers is the result of repurposing older, over-the-air transmission technology known as high-frequency millimeter wave spectrum. Using existing buildings and cellular towers to mount its transmitters, Starry can relay its signals to outdoor antennas mounted either on the roof of your building or on your window up to a 1.5Km distance. These antennas connect to the Starry Base Station wireless router inside your home, allowing for full Internet access. The Starry Base Station is unique in its design is available to rent on Starry’s website for $20 per month, or for purchase on Amazon’s website for $289.00.
However, Starry faces some monumental challenges as it tries to bring high-speed, low-cost wireless Internet service to the masses. Currently, Starry’s method of signal transmission via high-frequency millimeter waves is not well-suited for rural areas since its maximum range is only 1.5 kilometers, in optimum conditions. It is best used in dense, urban areas that allow for many short-distance receivers to be mounted on building creating a mesh-like network. In addition, signals beamed from Starry’s equipment have even shown degradation in inclement weather, such as rain and snow shortening their effective range.
Issues such as these severely limit the marketability of Starry’s services, regardless of other factors such as low consumer prices or low cost of deployment. Lastly, company faces the uphill battle of gaining market share against the major ISP’s such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. 2017 will undoubtedly be an important year for Starry, Inc. as it works to deliver on its goal of bringing high-speed, wireless broadband Internet service to the market.
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